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December 2, 2022
Enterprise customer demand for Samsung foldable phones more than doubled during the first 10 months of 2022. Samsung this week announced that enterprise purchases of its foldable smartphones rose by 105% over the same period in 2021.
Samsung emphasized that the rise in professionals working remotely or in multiple locations is a significant driver of that demand.
According to a statement from executive VP KC Choi, who heads Samsung Electronics’ global mobile B2B organization: “Samsung Galaxy foldable smartphones were created to open up opportunities for new ways to work and explore creativity.”
Samsung cited a Counterpoint Research forecast that estimates that 16 million foldable smartphones will ship this year, which is 73% higher than 2021. Also, referring to Counterpoint’s forecast, Samsung stated that 26 million foldable smartphones will ship in 2023.
However, because Counterpoint released its forecast on the foldable market in August, its projection might be overly optimistic. Ross Young, co-founder, and CEO of DSCC, made that assessment, noting that shipments of foldable phones have since slowed.
DSCC’s Ross Young
“Shipments have really slowed in [the fourth quarter],” Young said. “It looks more like 13 million.”
DSCC is a research firm specializing in display-based product and component supply chains. Young said he doesn’t see shipments picking up early next year.
“It definitely won’t be 26 million,” he said.
Despite those high figures, foldable shipments represent a sliver of the 1.27 billion smartphones IDC forecasts will ship this year.
The head of Samsung’s B2B mobile channel, Jeff Gustafson, is bullish about the potential of foldables.
Samsung’s Jeff Gustafson
“We’re seeing some unique use cases come out within finance, government, health care and in other places,” Gustafson recently told Channel Futures. “It’s just continuing to evolve.”
Samsung, which released its Galaxy Fold4 and Galaxy Flip4 phones in August, has shipped the majority of foldables. Competitors include the Huawei Mate and the Motorola Razr. The latter company, a division of Lenovo, recently released its latest version, the Motorola Razr 2022, in some countries.
Microsoft’s current Surface Duo hasn’t become a big hit. In September, Lenovo previewed an updated iteration of its ThinkPad X1 Fold portable, though the company hasn’t revealed release plans. There are rumors that Microsoft might refresh its dual-screen Surface Duo in 2023.
Young said that he’s not surprised that enterprises are the largest customers purchasing foldable phones.
“It makes sense that there would be some growth in shipments to commercial markets,” he said. “It’s good to see Samsung calling out the benefits to commercial users.”
Techsponential principal analyst Avi Greengart noted that the foldable market has benefited from increased mobile spending from the pandemic.
Techsponential’s Avi Greengart
“If there’s a surprising angle here, it is that demand for foldable phones is continuing even if laptop sales are now dropping off,” Greengart said.
Greengart agreed that commercial users would most likely benefit from the foldable form factor.
“You can see more information and get more done on a Galaxy Z Fold4 than on any bar phone,” he said. “Samsung also has leading security capabilities, and its software for foldables has been refined over four generations.”
Next year, Greengart expects to see more players launch new foldables, but so far the U.S. remains a challenge.
“Most of the companies adding foldables are Chinese and lack U.S. carrier distribution and enterprise-friendly software and support,” he said. But if Microsoft does give the Surface Duo a significant update next year, Greengard added: “It could provide Samsung with competition.”
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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